15E: Alpha 3: What Sustainability Means To Me

29th July 2015

Sustainabiltiy is what Raleigh aims for in all of its projects - the changes that occur need to be for the long term and fulfil the needs of the current generation without adversely affecting future generations. Steph Taylor, one of our Volunteers currently with Alpha 3 at the SWASH project in Magham and Barazani, gave us her perspective on what sustainability means to her.

 

Before coming on Raleigh we all had different understandings of what sustainability was. However, I had no hesitation telling people I was going on a sustainable development expedition. Initially it was hard to picture the broader effects of what we had planned, but twelve days into our community project in Magham and Barazani, it is all starting to come together.

Sustainability refers to producing and using resources to cater for needs in a way that will not negatively impact on the needs of future generations. Sustainable development is not just a short term solution, but takes into account the long term effects of a particular project, whether they be related to people, environment or culture. Our project has focused on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). In assisting DMDD (our project partner) and the local fundi (builders) to build new toilet blocks in local primary schools, a number of community benefits are being received. All resources are locally sourced, contributing to the local economy. The toilets themselves are a new design, allowing the waste to be collected, stored and redistributed for agricultural processes, which has been proven to be three times more effective than horse manure. This means the life expectancy of the toilets is a lot longer than previous builds. Also, having these new toilet facilities means that girls will be encouraged to remain in education. Inadequate sanitation in schools means that teenage girls sometimes drop out of education once they start menstruating.

However, sustainability isn’t just about resources and infrastructure. Half of our time here is spent in the community raising awareness about hand washing, water treatment and dental hygiene. Household surveys conducted in the first phase showed that the majority of families in the community had sickness in the homes on a regular basis, most of which were instances of diarrhoea and vomiting. Such illnesses can be easily prevented, so we have been working in the schools doing presentations and games with Standard 4-5 students (8-10 year olds) to stress the importance of these simple practices. We are hoping that with improving WASH habits illnesses will decrease and education will improve.  The long term effects of this could be increased chances of employment later in life, decreased infant mortality and all round improved health within the community. While this one project might not save the world overnight, we have learnt that the impact it will have upon the community is something we should all be proud of.